During 1940, the apprehension that the Luftwaffe would start a high level bomber offensive, after prototypes of the Ju 86P appeared over the British island, led the Air Ministry to issue specification F.4/40 for a high altitude fighter equipped with six cannons, radar and pressurized cabin for a crew of two. The winning design by Westland (P.14) however was a single seater, mid-wing aircraft with pressurized cockpit and armament consisting of "only" four cannons.
The first prototype, Welkin Mk.ID G558/G, took of on 1th November 1942 and the tests revealed flying control troubles and very bad maneuverability. Since the German high level bomber offensive never happened, the RAF tried to find another purpose for the aircraft. This led to the construction of a Night Fighter prototype designated NF Mk.II. The Welkin was lengthened by 1,93 m to become a double seater equipped with a nose mounted AI Mk. VIII radar. Three were built but never saw operational service before the end of WWII.
This kit is of course very similar to the earlier Welkin Mk.I produced by the same manufacturer. You can find an excellent review of it by Rowan Baylis by following this link: Planet Models Welkin Mk.I review
The quality of this boxing is very similar and maybe even better in some places. The kit's content is packed within in a strong box with a Black&white photo of a real aircraft on the cover. The (mostly) resin parts are held within several sealed pouches to prevent damage and this prooved quite effective in my sample, even for the most fragile parts.
The resin parts are well cast with no traces of bubbles except for very little ones I found on the trailing edges of the wings. However these are very fine so this explains that. There are traces of flash but the design of the big parts (fuselage, wings and engine nacelles) is so good that very little work will be required to clean them. The smaller part will need more attention though.
Unless the two one piece wings, the fuselage and the engine nacelles are hollow. This will save weight and make the construction easier. The clever wing assembly with interlocking spars has already been commented in Rowan's review, however, I found some build reports on the net in which it was to see that the modelers added additional metal rods to achieve an even stronger assembly. The surface finish (finely scribed panel lines and few raised details) is very good, especially for resin made pieces.
The kit also provides a small but very nice PE fret, two excellent vacuformed canopies (one spare), a decal sheet (see below for options), metal parts for the landing gear and the instructions. The latter, as Rowan Baylis already stated in his Welkin Mk.I review, are based on B&W photos. While the kit isn't very complicated (thanks to the breakdown of the parts) more conventional drawings would have probably been easier to understand.
Mk.I and NF Mk.II differences
Although very similar, there are of course some differences between both Welkin kits produced by Planet Models. Here is a list of them:
- While their shape are strictly the same, the medium used for doing the undecarriage legs is different. In the previous kit, the parts were molded in resin with the addition of metal rods to strengthen them. In this boxing the parts are cast in metal which is an improvement considering the weight of the finished model.
- The shape of the fuselage's nose is different on the Night Fighter version to accomodate the radar. Fortunately, there is no cutting to be done in the kit to fit an insert as Planet Models decided to include two all new fuselage halves.
- Some resin and PE parts have been added for the cockpit of the second crew member.
- A different canopy is provided as well of course.
Decals are included for three markings carried by the same aircraft during his career:
- Welkin NF Mk.II, PF 370, Westland Aircraft Ltd., Yeovil, Somerset, October 1944.
- Welkin NF Mk.II, WE997, (re-serialled PF370) used for radar trials in 1946.
- Welkin NF Mk.II, PF 370 used as manufacturer hack aircraft and pressure cabin development in 1945-46.
All three Welkins NF Mk.II had the same camouflage of Medium Sea Grey over Yellow. The propeller spinners were Medium Sea Gray as well but later painted in black. The propeller blades were black with yellow tips. No color references are given in the painting guide other than generic names.
Planet Models' Welkin NF Mk.II really is an extraordinary kit. Both because it is the replica of a very unusual subject and because it is very well engineered. Too bad that the instructions are a little vague in some places otherwise it would have been nearly perfect. I highly recommend this kit to modelers with some experience with resin kits and who have the references to do it justice. A fat wallet is also needed!
Planet Models' Welkin NF Mk.II is available from www.cmkkits.com
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